Human Impacts

Exploring Change with GIS

On our ever-changing Earth, conditions may change quickly or slowly. Some changes come from natural processes; some from human activity. Satellites allow us to see conditions and track changes over time — in land use, forest health, land/water interface, and so on. Since 1972, Landsat satellites have been collecting data using various portions of the visible and invisible electromagnetic spectrum, at a scale close enough to see highways, but not individual buildings on a city block.

Exploring Color Maps

Blue landmasses? Green clouds? Red ice shelves? Maybe you’ve seen a colorful map and said to yourself, that’s not how it looks in real life!

Exploring Energy with GIS

Geoscientists, energy researchers, and others in numerous careers and disciplines use GIS and its integrative nature to tackle these issues. You can, too.

Exploring for Petroleum - Modeling an Oil Reserve

Doing this investigation will help you understand how geoscientists identify and explore petroleum-rich reserves.

Exploring Geoheritage From Space

 Great images of geoheritage sites can be found everywhere.  But no one holding a camera on Earth can “back away” far enough to get the extraordinary perspective captured by NASA satellites. In celebration of Earth Science Week 2016, NASA's Earth Observatory has created a special collection of images and articles showcasing geoheritage sites in America’s National Parks.

Exploring Geoheritage Through EarthCaching

An EarthCache is a special site that people can visit to learn about a unique geoscience feature or aspect of our Earth. Visitors to EarthCache sites can see how our planet has been shaped by geological processes, how we manage the resources and how scientists gather evidence to learn about the Earth.

Finding Slope

Explore how the slope of land will effect water flow and life above ground in this activity from the Soil Science Society of America.


Learn the dangers of flooding in this activity, where students explore soil porosity and permeability.

Groundwater Movement

Water that accumulates beneath the surface of the Earth is called groundwater. Contrary to popular belief, groundwater does not form underground "rivers," but is actually found in the small spaces and cracks between rocks and other material such as sand and gravel. The following activity involves learning how water moves through rock materials such as sand, gravel, and clay.

Hands-On Experiments to Test for Acid-Mine Drainage

 Click on the link below for the .pdf file of this classroom activity.

PDF icon Acid Mine Drainage


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